Teaching English Abroad – A Tale of Two Countries

Teaching English abroad is a great way to fund your travels, but the experience can differ greatly from country to country. I have only taught English in two countries; Nepal and Japan. Each country has its pulls and its drawbacks for teaching, and I’m here to share them with you today.

Nepal

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As part of my Education degree, everyone had to go through 4 weeks of work experience teaching. Most people in my year at university went to schools in the surrounding area, I however, went to Nepal.

I spent four weeks living in Kathmandu, the countries capital. I taught at a private school which housed children from Kindergarten right up to 18 years old. Even though this was a private school, that doesn’t really mean the same thing as it does back home. The picture above was one of their biggest classrooms, and was where I spent most of my time teaching.

Their resources were very limited. Each child had pencils and paper, and we had one textbook for the whole class which we could copy to use during lessons. Before coming, I had made flashcards, games and a whole host of learning materials which I then subsequently left at the school for future use.

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Despite the simpleness of the school, the children were some of the most enthusiastic students I have ever taught. They worked very hard in every class and were very excited to see us each day. Maybe this was because we used so many games in our teaching, rather than rote learning. They didn’t need fancy resources or textbooks to enjoy learning English, and I didn’t need them to enjoy teaching it.

Resources – 3/10

Curriculum – 7/10 (we designed it ourselves! Tough, but fun!)

Students – 9/10

Total – 6.3/10

Japan

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Teaching English in Japan has been a very different experience for me. Japan is a much wealthier country then Nepal, so resources are abundant. I was teaching at private after-school English schools around the Kansai area, so I had a wealth of students. Every class had their own flashcards, workbooks, and resources for games. Each lesson was planned by the company I worked for, so all I had to do as show up and be entertaining.

The kids here are a mix. Most of them are great, and very enthusiastic about learning English. But, there are a few that are very clearly sent here by their parents to learn English, whether they wanted to or not. This does mean that some games can be difficult to run. The baseline level of English is also much lower here than it was in Nepal – which was really quite surprising for me.

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In Japan, I have been teaching every age imaginable, from around 9 months old (when they come in with their parents) all the way to adults. So the variety of lessons has been an improvement on Nepal, where days could become quite repetitive. Also, I’ve been in Japan for two years, so I’ve had the chance to really get to know the children in my classes.

Resources – 9/10

Curriculum – 5/10

Students – 8/10

Total – 7.3/10

Conclusion

As you can see, both countries had their positives and negatives, and so will everywhere else. Just be aware before you go teaching anywhere, that no country is perfect. Teaching English can be incredibly rewarding- but also incredibly difficult at times. I wouldn’t have changed my time teaching for the world!

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5 thoughts on “Teaching English Abroad – A Tale of Two Countries

  1. krisdanig says:

    This is a cool overview of two places to teach English! Just started my English teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam. Looking forward to more adventures in many new countries! 🙂

  2. Caroline says:

    Really cool. I’ve always thought about teaching English (may do at some point in the future). So this is a really interesting overview and sounds like you had an enriching experience 🙂

  3. Lianna says:

    I really enjoyed reading this! I plan on teaching English in Japan or South Korea once I finish my degree. Definitely gonna keep looking through your blog to find out more about what it’s like!

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